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January
26
2020

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

“Fearfully and Wonderfully Made”

Sanctity of Life Message

 PSALM 139:13-16. 

On a cool, overcast morning last Friday, the 47th Annual March for Life drew its largest crowd in history, as thousands listened intently to President Donald Trump deliver a 13 minute speech on the sanctity of human life and his commitment to defend the unborn.  While it was, of course, a politically charged message, the move was unprecedented in that Trump is the first sitting president to ever personally attend a March for Life rally.

This Gathering has occurred every January around this time since 1974, the year after the infamous Roe. v. Wade Supreme Court Decision on January 22, 1973, making abortion legal in all 50 states, and opening the way for abortion to take place in all nine months of pregnancy, and for virtually any reason (or no reason at all).

Ten years after that first march, On Jan. 22, 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated the third Sunday of January as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. He said this: “I call upon the citizens of this blessed land to gather on that day in homes and places of worship to give thanks for the gift of life, and to reaffirm our commitment to the dignity of every human being and the sanctity of each human life.”

Last Sunday was that designated Sunday, and churches around the country dedicated their worship service to raising awareness about core life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, infanticide, and more.  But, like many events and issues in life, I’m often behind the curve.  In speaking with some pastors last week, I felt convicted that I had never preached on the sanctity of human life and specifically on unborn life. 

 

So, today we are going to spend some time reflecting on the value of the unborn. [DISCLAIMER HERE]  I wasn’t sure to BEGIN with the dismal picture of the state of our nation (and world) when it comes to the issue of abortion, or to BEGIN sharing the biblical argument for the sacredness of human life. I decided to describe the 800 pound gorilla in the room FIRST, then talk about how God sees it and what can be done about it.

BY THE NUMBERS…In the US, according to data through organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and the Guttmacher Institute…

  • It is estimated that nearly 62 million abortions have occurred in the United States since 1973.
  • Further, the Guttmacher institute also estimates that “during 2010–2014, an estimated 56 million induced abortions occurred each year worldwide. 224 million murders.
  • 862,320 abortions took place in the U.S. in 2017, down 7 percent from 926,190 in 2014. In 2011, there were 1,058,000 abortions performed in our country.
  • The US, along with North Korea, Canada, and China are the only four countries that allow abortion on demand at any time during all nine months of pregnancy.
  • 18% of pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) in 2017 ended in abortion.
  • Nine out of ten abortions are performed in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy
  • Black women make up only 13% of the female population (ages 15-44) in the U.S., but they accounted for approximately 36% of the abortions in 2015.
  • On average women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion:
  • 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities.
  • About 3/4 say they cannot afford a child.
  • About 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent, or they are having problems with their husband or partner.

Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider, which provides about 1/4 of all abortions in the US.  Planned Parenthood kills a baby every 96 seconds…that's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  That means, in the time that you listen to this message on the sacredness of human life, approximately 22 babies will be murdered by Planned Parenthood.

Let’s talk business.  In 2010, Planned Parenthood received about 487.4 million dollars in federal funding, accounting for 46.5%of total revenue.  51.5% of their income came from performing abortions.  In 2018, Planned Parenthood received 563.8 million dollars in federal funding.  That’s over 1.5 million dollars a day!

The cost of an abortion ranges anywhere from $180 to $2,000. The average cost of an abortion in our country is $296. For the price of a flat screen TV, or less than the price of an iPhone, you can legally end a life in our country all in the name of choice.

 

BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS

Okay. That was some of the grim statistics of the abortion industry.  So, what does the Bible say about the sanctity of human life?  Why should this be more than just a political issue, but a JUSTICE issue?  Let’s see what God has to say about it. 

The Bible does not contain the word “abortion,” but the message is clear throughout: Human life is precious in the sight of God. From the very beginning of creation, we read in Genesis that humans are created in the image of God our Creator. 

The verses I read from Psalm 139 were from a larger psalm of David whereby he is acknowledging God not only as an all-knowing but ever-present Creator. He can’t run from God…not even in his thoughts! David acknowledges that he is alive only because the Lord God wove him together in his mother’s womb.  Yes, God “SAW” him before he was born and God “LAID OUT” every moment before David saw a single day of life pass.

How often do we stop to consider the wonder and absolute miracle of human life from conception? I want to read off some characteristics of human life during the developmental stages in our mother’s womb:

  • At 22 days, the baby’s heart is beating
  • At 40 days, the baby’s brain waves are detected
  • At 7 weeks, the baby’s facial features are visible
  • At 8 weeks, the baby’s arms and legs are growing and eyes, toes and fingers are formed
  • At 10 weeks, the baby’s unique fingerprints are forming
  • At 12 weeks, all the baby’s organs work, and the baby can hear and even undergo surgery
  • At 20 weeks, the baby can feel pain
  • At 22 weeks, a baby can survive outside the womb with active medical treatment
  • At 23 weeks, the mother feels the baby move
  • At 27 weeks, the baby can open and close its eyes
  • At 28 weeks, the baby can dream
  • At 37 weeks, the baby is considered full term and ready to be born

Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made!!!

The apostle Paul affirms David’s belief in a great, omniscient, Creator in Ephesians 2:10 when he says, “For we are God’s handiwork (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Think about this. Through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, Son of God, human life was joined to our Creator in an even more sacred manner. Remember, Jesus’ earthly life began as an innocent, unborn baby in Mary’s womb. Even John the Baptist, also an unborn child at the time, recognized this sacred dignity as he “leapt” in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth sees Mary!

The Gospel writer tells us in John 1:3 that through the Word—Jesus—all things were made.  It stands to reason that—if God made all life and he did so through his Son, Jesus Christ, who gave up His life FOR all life—then ALL LIFE IS SACRED! 

As the psalmist (127:3) says: Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.  Finally, during his earthly ministry, Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

Yet, even with the dignity of human life firmly established by God, the powers of sin and death seek to destroy innocent human lifePharaoh used the waters of the Nile. King Herod destroyed all the babies under 2 years of age in Bethlehem. Thus, over the years, AS human life has been attacked in different ways—leading to the systematic destruction of life through abortion—we can trust that God desires for us to protect the innocent, since we know from Proverbs 6:16-17 that God “hates hands that shed innocent blood.”.

From the earliest parts of the creation story in Genesis, we see God’s concern for the taking of innocent life when Cain kills his brother Abel, even after having been warned by the Lord not to do so.  And later in the Law of Moses there are multiple prohibitions about taking human life unjustly.  Just look at the Ten Commandments. We might recite the sixth commandment as, “Thou shalt not ________, yes, kill. The modern translation is murder…the unjust taking of life, or the taking of innocent life. 

If God sees all life valuable and views the taking of innocent life abominable, then it stands to reason that the taking of unborn human life would be equally abhorrent to God and SHOULD BE to us! Should we as Christians, then be taking a stronger stand against the taking of unborn lives?

 

Sadly, I fear, we as Christians—including YOUR PASTOR—have been too silent on this matter. You see,  Our enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).  He is a liar and a thief.  In contrast, Jesus, when describing himself as the Gate for his sheep and the Good Shepherd, said this of the thief: 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  Jesus is the ultimate PRO-LIFE Advocate! And our enemy the devil, is PRO-DEATH.

I believe that one of the ways the devil has helped create spiritually dead people in our society and in our churches is by trying to anesthetize God’s people of the atrocity of abortion and infanticide.  America (and the world) has been duped into shifting our views on the sanctity of human life.  According to 2018 Gallop Pole, fewer Americans view abortion as a moral issue and the percentage who consider it morally wrong has also declined. In fact, 43% of American adults believe abortion is morally acceptable.

The enemy and his agents changed the narrative about abortion, calling it reproductive rights.  It’s all about healthcare choices and a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. After all, who would want to take away any American’s rights or choices, right?  If pro-choice advocates can sell the narrative that being pro-life threatens women’s healthcare choices, specifically, and women in general, then many in our “live-and-let-live” world take the bait…hook, line, and sinker.

RESPONSE?

But perhaps the tide is changing.  Maybe more Bible-believing, Spirit-filled followers of Jesus Christ are waking up to this GREAT SIN that has plagued our nation for decades, causing us to be even more morally bankrupt!  Maybe NOW is the season when we can come together under the banner of truth and bonds of love for the unborn to demand changes in our society.

For one thing, this morning I would like to stop right now and pray.  Let us remember the lives lost to abortion and the women hurt by abortion, praying for a day when abortion and all life-destroying actions will be unthinkable in America. LET’S PRAY…

 

What Else Can We Do? Let me offer some additional suggestions of ways we can take a stand for those who do not yet have a voice. First, I printed about 10-15 copies of a pamphlet called, “31 Ways to be Pro ABUNDANT life.” They are on the Resource Table and I encourage you pick them up. I’ll make more copies if anyone wants one.  Here are some other suggestions:

  • Pray: Pray for men and women facing the fears associated with an unplanned pregnancy and for those who are suffering in silence with the regret of past choices they have made.
  • Speak Out: Be respectfully brave on social media by posting honest articles that inform, help and heal.
  • Educate Yourself and Your Children: Learn more about abortion and other life issues by reading books or articles. Watch a pro-life movie, such as “Unplanned,” “Bella” or “October Baby” with your children and discuss it with them. Even books like “Horton Hears a Who!” by Dr. Seuss can instill a pro-life world view in young children.
  • Help a Pregnancy Center, Maternity Home or Adoption Agency:  Hearts & Hands has had a pregnancy center since its inception, but needs much more involvement and funding.  You should have an insert in your bulletin from Bethany Christian Services, which seeks to promote the sanctity of human life through counseling and support to women and men who face an unplanned pregnancy. They offer life-affirming options like adoption.
  • Give a Child a Home: Become a foster parent, or adopt a child. Cassie and I can tell you that, even though its hard work, being a resource parent is truly a blessing.
  • Participate in Pro-Life Events: We have promoted 40 Days for Life at BUMC several times and another campaign is scheduled in Memphis for February 26-April 5th.
  • Last year, a Memphis abortion center: “Choices: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health” announced their plans to open a Mega-center in Memphis that would couple as a birthing center and abortion center, the first of its kind in the United States! Now, they have announced that they are slated to open in April of 2020. This means that an unborn baby would be killed in one room and a live baby would be delivered in the next all under one roof. This cannot happen in our community!

In response, Christians in Memphis are uniting to stand against this perverted view of “choice” and “women’s empowerment” through a campaign of prayer, fasting, and community outreach. There will be a collaborative outreach effort to counter their abortion agenda in Memphis during the upcoming 40 Days for Life campaign, praying that the Lord of life will keep the doors of this Mega-center from opening. THIS THURSDAY, JANUARY 30TH AT AUDUBON PARK BAPTIST CHURCH, there will be vision-casting meeting to share more details and put together a core team of volunteers. The address is 4060 Park Avenue Memphis, TN 38111.

 

  • Be Politically Active: Call local, state and national officials and let them know you don’t want your tax dollars going to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. Cast your votes for pro-life candidates.
  • Give.  Make generous contributions to Hearts & Hands Crisis Pregnancy Center, Bethany Christian Services, 40 Days for Life, The Methodist Children’s Home, or other organizations or ministries that promote the sanctity of human life.

 

CLOSING.  The psalmist rightly says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Our nation has been sought to minimize the sanctity of human life through the taking of innocent unborn, and in some cases, newly born life.  God does not wink at our sin. I believe the Church’s relative silence makes us complicit in these atrocities. It’s one thing to say we’re sorry for the 22 babies who died while we sat warmly in this building. It’s another to get up and do something about it.  What say you? Amen.

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